Another day in my adventure in babysitting. I am reminded of the musical The Music Man. The words from a song in the musical come to mind... "There's trouble right here in river city." You see Kate is reaching a milestone, several maybe. She is turning over very easily and quickly. And she is holding her head up. As she does this she is checking out her surroundings and eyeing all the things she wants to get. It won't be long before she is crawling and putting everything in sight into her mouth. Sam, watch out for your books and toys, nothing will be safe. If she's anything like her mother she may be a pretty destructive little thing. In some ways I want to keep her in the infant stage, cute and very manageable. But life isn't about staying the same. We grow and change leaving old ways behind. I'll miss the infant Kate but as her father said, "Now's when the fun starts." I think I probably was part of bringing on these changes by all the time and attention I've given her.
I'll love you through all your new adventures, Kate.
You want to know what's really cool? Sometimes Kate gives me a look that is more than just seeing me. It is a knowing look. I have had people say when they see her look at me, "She knows you!" I guess when you spend this much time together that happens. Sometimes her knowing looks communicate. They might say, "Come over here, I need you." or "You've got to be kidding." or "You're funny." or "I like that song." When I think about it, we all want to be known. We want someone to know who we really are and love us. That's the Lord's attitude. He wants all of us to know we are loved. It's a big responsibility and He entrusts it to us. How many people in life can I really know? I believe God gives us opportunities to connect with others. If we are willing to try, we will discover that each person is the pearl of great price. I can't know everyone I meet but I believe there are people out there that are just waiting for me to discover them. Lord give me the patience and insight to get to know those people. Kate thanks for getting to know me. Poppi... She's ready for the Halloween party.
When Kate gets hungry she can't wait until I get the bottle ready to feed her. She leans over in my arms assuming I won't drop her and when the bottle is ready she is so anxious that she starts shaking. I was thinking how she must feel to be totally dependent on others for all of her needs. In our culture we tend to weed that out of our children. We want them to be independent, able to fend for themselves and stand on their own two feet. There is something to be said for this but it hides a deeper truth. We are dependent on others and the sooner we learn to count on others the better off we are. Doing that will make us vulnerable but more human. I have grown a great deal because of my relationship with my family and the men in my support groups. I count on them and I hope they know they can count on me. As far as Kate is concerned, I am trying to help her see that she can count on people to be there. I try to sense her needs and meet them as quickly as possible.
How am I doing Kate?
Well, Kate hit another milestone today. There are some little animals that hang above her when she is on her play area on the floor. One of them, the purple monkey plays a little tune if you pull on it. She always smiles when I pull on it for her. This morning when I was working on my laptop and she was playing I heard the monkey's little tune...twice. She had managed to grab it and pull. I'm not sure if it was accidental or intentional, but I like to think she was cheering for herself inside at what she had accomplished. We all need goals in life even if they are small ones. We need signs of growth that we can celebrate. Kate will be accomplishing lots of things in her life, some that might seem impossible. I am reminded of a poet who once wrote: "Man's reach must exceed his grasp or what's a heaven for?" I am at the point of setting new goals. My babysitting days are numbered. Soon I will be really retired. What new things will I reach for? I am anxious but excited. Holy Spirit be my guide.
Here's Kate and the purple monkey.
Today is October 24th another day in my adventure in babysitting. I like to take Kate in front of the mirror and see how she responds to seeing herself. Over the last couple of weeks she seemed to have recognized me and smile if I cajole her. Today for the first time I think she recognized herself. She was just LOOKING. I think she is beginning to know she is this little person. She will probably spend a lot of time in her life looking at herself in the mirror. I hope she likes what she sees but I hope she learns how to look beneath the surface. I have been working on this. Trying to see beyond the exterior. After all that's what I want people to do for me. I want to look with more wisdom and less judgment. For me that can be a challenge. God grant me the wisdom to see people as You see them.
With Kate that's easy.
I think Kate is a morning person (unlike her mom when she was young). When she wakes in the morning and I go into her room to pick her up, I get the greatest glad-to-see-you-again smile in the world. Check the picture for this morning's version. Beginning the day with a smile can make all the difference in what happens to us during the day. An open and positive attitude will smooth out the rough spots and enable the people we meet to be positive as well.
It is a known fact the people are imitators. They will tend to return a smile for a smile. Over the years as I have walked in the neighborhood I have waved at everyone I saw driving by. Now I get people waving at me from almost every car that passes. How do we encourage our children to be positive? Be positive and they will imitate it. This may take more effort from some people than others but it can become a habit if we work at it. It's contagious.
Keep smiling, Kate.
Both of my daughters are very creative, artists really in their own way. Claire is a great photographer and Sarah, among other things, takes Halloween to a whole other level. A couple of years ago she dressed as Fay Wray, Scott was the Empire State Building and little Sam was King Kong. Now that Kate is with us and unable to protest, she is going as Princess Leah, Sam as Luke and Sarah as Chewbacca. Check the picture for a preview of Leah. This is a memory that will last forever.
My friend Charlie once told me of the importance of parents creating good memories for their kids. We carry our memories like luggage with us for a lifetime. They don't have to be a big deal, just special times. It might be a fishing trip, playing catch in the back yard or baking that first pie. The key is that they are positive experiences. It doesn't matter if the pie comes out perfect but that the experience is warm and fun. I plan on giving all my grand kids as many good memories as I can. They take a little time and patience but they will have lifelong positive effects.
I love them all.
As you can see from the picture, I left Kate's pajamas on her all day long today. She isn't feeling good. She has a cold that just hangs on. For a baby that means a runny (and sore) nose and lots of drooling. Besides that it's a rainy, chilly day out and it just feels like a pj's all day kind of day. I kind of feel like I'm catching her cold myself. So we are just hanging out not doing much. Sometimes we just have to take a breather. She's cute even with a cold and I'm just enjoying the quiet. I'm really going to miss this when it's over in about a month. I may end up being a stalker at her child care center.
Kate, you've stolen my heart.
I am worried about Kate. She is losing her hair. Believe me, I know the sinking feeling that comes with the realization that you are going bald. Not that she is worried. As you can see from the picture, she sleeps well. As a matter of fact she is sleeping through the night, yeah! Anyway, babies don't worry about how they look. They just are who they are. There's wisdom in that. The animal world doesn't worry about how they look either. They are satisfied with how God made them. As I grow older I have to reconcile myself with the fact I am not twenty or even fifty anymore. If I don't life gets pretty sad. Kate is lucky though, she has a lot of hair to look forward to. I know she'll be a real cutie, but whatever she looks like, I pray she doesn't believe the lie that how you look determines who you are. I'll try to keep her from believing that lie.
Today is October 17th another day in my adventure in babysitting. If you don't know already, Kate is such a good baby. She is very even tempered. She doesn't cry much. She smiles a lot. Even when she does get upset, it doesn't last long. I can settle her down quickly and easily. I don't think this is because of me. I just think she is a nice kid.
But is that a good? Isn't it better to be a complainer, more vocal, more aggressive? Nice people finish last, so the saying goes. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. It seems like our culture admires and rewards the aggressive ones. I for one don't like that about our world today. It's the good hearted, nice people that make life worth living. I hope Kate stays her good hearted self. Most of the people I truly like and value are just nice folks.
How do you raise a nice kid? Help them realize that the most important things in life cannot be had by taking them. Or as the Beatles sang, "The love you take is equal to the love you make." There's a nice smile.
Love you just the way you are, Kate.
Poppi's Adventures in Babysitting
Jim Kemna (Poppi) was the Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri until he retired at the end of June 2016. Now Jim is becoming an active grandparent. He is babysitting for his one month old granddaughter Katie. Before retirement Jim was responsible for assisting his bishop in promoting the vision of catechesis throughout the diocese. See Meet the Project Team for more information about this author.